State requests more information on Poseidon

An application to build a desalination plant in Huntington Beach is incomplete, according to a state agency.

The California Coastal Commission's staff sent Poseidon Resources Corp. an April 22 notice saying its application to build a facility that converts seawater into freshwater fails to answer questions about how it would impact the nearby wetlands, among other issues.

Stamford, Conn.-based Poseidon, however, says it has answered all previous inquires related to the proposed project on Pacific Coast Highway near Newland Street and has completed the application.

The commission specifically wants more information

on the potential for soil and groundwater contamination, as well as letters from cities that would like to attend the hearing.

Tom Luster, a staff environmental scientist for the Coastal Commission, said Poseidon has been reminded to respond numerous times but hasn't.

"If we haven't heard back from an applicant in a reasonable amount of time — six or nine months — we'll get back in touch and ask whether they want to keep their application going or not," Luster said, adding that there is no due date for the required information. "But in this case, we know that Poseidon is working to get this thing approved. The ball's in their court."

Poseidon Vice President Scott Maloni said the company has answered each of the commission's letters. The only issue that his company has been reminded about on multiple occasions is the issue about the transportation of potentially contaminated soil, he said.

He said the company has sent commission staff its plans on handing the soil underneath oil tanks currently on the property.

Maloni stated in an email that in February 2007 Poseidon provided the commission staff with the remedial action plan that addresses how the company would handle and transport contaminated soil if it is found onsite. He added that the issue was also fully addressed in two environmental impact reports approved by the city of Huntington Beach in 2005 and again in 2010.

"Everything they've asked for, we've given to them a long time ago," Maloni said. "I can't explain why the staff says they don't have that information when they clearly have it."

Poseidon spokesman Brian Lochrie said Poseidon received six notices when it worked on a project in Carlsbad compared with 12 related to Huntington Beach since 2006.

That the highest number of notifications Luster has seen in his 12 years with the agency.

"It's common to have one or two request letters like this, but a dozen is kind of high," he said. "If we don't have some [information], then it's hard for us to make positive recommendations to the commission."

The recent letter also asks Poseidon to evaluate what impact the construction would have on the nearby wetlands, as well as the public's access to the beach, while the company is working at the AES power plant. The site was selected so that Poseidon can tap into AES's intake pipes that cool the generators.

Maloni said the request for information on the cumulative impacts on both AES's and Poseidon's projects is new.

He said Poseidon was told to do an impact report on this when it received this current notice.

Luster said the California Energy Commission just began reviewing AES's renovations late last year.

Though Poseidon said it has responded to how it will transport potentially contaminated soil found underneath large preexisting fuel oil tanks at the site, Luster said they are still waiting for a report.

Luster said it looks like Poseidon won't prepare a report until after the tanks are removed. Instead, Luster said that the company has been asked to give his staff a "worst-case scenario" report on what could be underneath the tanks.

Twitter: @acocarpio

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